Household name: Lifetime Brands embraces BI solution to view data, perfect pricing
by William Atkinson, contributing editor Most manufacturers seeking to analyze and improve business performance have more than enough relevant data flowing through their enterprise systems. The problem lies in how to access the exact pieces of data needed at any given moment to answer performance-related questions.
by William Atkinson, contributing editor
Most manufacturers seeking to analyze and improve business performance have more than enough relevant data flowing through their enterprise systems. The problem lies in how to access the exact pieces of data needed at any given moment to answer performance-related questions.
Lifetime Brands —a Garden City, N.Y.-based marketer of household products under the FarberWare, KitchenAid, Pfaltzgraff, and Cuisinart brands—thought business intelligence (BI) software would solve that problem. And it was right—at least partially.
After deploying BI, the company achieved its goal of being able to thoroughly analyze all company sales. Activity can be broken down by time periods, by division, or numerous other categories. Current sales can be compared with historical numbers; actual sales can be compared with sales forecasts. Salespeople can get reports on just the products they sell.
All this information is coming through a QlikTech application called QlikView. And in finding this application, Lifetime Brands discovered that not all BI solutions are the right fit for every business.
QlikTech aims its solution at the consumer products, financial services, manufacturing, life sciences, and transportation industries. For manufacturers, QlikView aggregates and synthesizes information from ERP applications, third-party systems, spreadsheets, EDI, and RFID chips. By providing an up-to-the-minute picture of its business activity, QlikView enables these actions:
Identify and solve supply chain problems—e.g., supplier deliveries, production schedules;
Determine true product costs;
Ensure the best pricing and service levels;
Give plant managers a dashboard view of performance metrics to improve shop-floor performance; and
Streamline compliance reporting.
Lifetime Brands first saw a need for a BI solution after it migrated to the SAP ERP suite. “We acquired a company and moved onto their SAP platform,” explains Clifford Siegel, senior VP, global supply chain, Lifetime Brands.
Yet while the entire company was on the same ERP platform, there was no way to get consolidated reports or data for enterprisewide business analysis. The initial plan was to roll out BI solutions to each functional area, and the company hired a consulting firm to help scope out the project.
Around that time, Siegel happened to hear about QlikTech. “They came in, and within one day, they showed us what we were going to get,” he states. “We learned more in that one day than in two weeks with the consultant.”
With QlikView, Lifetime Brands now has a single view of all sales and supply chain activity, regardless of whether the data related to that activity is stored within SAP or other systems. Lifetime is organizing data and running reports at a level of detail that would have only been accessible by running 100 individual reports in SAP and other systems.
“With QlikView, we aggregate historical data from various enterprise software systems with data from [SAP],” explains Siegel. “Company information is accessible to everyone, enabling users to develop consolidated reports.”
Employees can monitor and analyze inventory turns, purchase orders, material requirements, and vendor performance across all divisions.
“The goal of a good report is to help users run their businesses, and this is exactly what QlikView is giving us,” states Siegel. “We don’t need any other internal resources, any other staff, or any outside consulting.”
Lyndsay Wise, president of WiseAnalytics , a Montreal-based research and consulting firm, says solutions that offer this type of centralized, real-time reporting offer great value. “This is much more useful than looking back at monthly reports or yearly reports,” she says. “Users like the flexibility that the technology offers [from] being viewed on the Web.”
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.